Jogging occupies that fuzzy middle ground between walking and running. So, it's little surprise that the number of calories you burn during a jog hovers somewhere between the estimates for walking and running too.
The number of calories burned in 30 minutes at an easy jog can range from 223 to 400 or more. Factors like body weight account for part of the variation in that range, but so does the fact that "easy" can mean different things to different people.
How Fast Do You Jog?
At its essence, a jog is a slow run — but "slow run" and "easy jog" can mean very different things for different people.
Your own gauge of what's slow or easy will also change as your fitness improves; what's challenging now might start to feel "slow" or "easy" once you have a few weeks of regular jogging under your belt. So if you're looking for a reliable estimate of how many calories you'll burn during an easy jog, it helps to drill down to some specifics about jogging pace.
If you're not sure how fast your running pace is, you can use a smartphone GPS app to measure it. Another option is timing yourself while you jog laps on a track of known distance, or timing yourself while you jog on a sidewalk course that you've measured out with your car odometer.
Step-trackers and other types of pedometers can be helpful for estimating pace, but keep in mind that unless they're GPS-enabled, pedometers can give only a rough estimate of distance traveled — and thus your pace. That's because they gauge distance by counting your step, and not only does everybody have a slightly different step length, but your own step length also varies depending on your pace and the type of terrain you're on.
Calorie Burn Estimates
Once you've measure your jogging pace, you can start to estimate how many calories you'd burn in 30 minutes at an easy jog. Harvard Health Publishing provides a helpful table of estimates for how many calories you'd burn at various walking, running and jogging paces. Again, remember that a slow jog for some people is a brisk walk for others and that a slow run for you might be a really fast jog for somebody else — so pay more attention to the pace than the verbiage that accompanies it.
According to the Harvard figures, here's how many calories you can expect to burn in 30 minutes if you weigh 155 pounds and jog at the following paces:
- General walk/jog intervals (jogging less than 10 minutes at a time): 223 calories
- 5 mph: 298 calories
- 5.2 mph: 335 calories
Did you notice that the faster you go, the more calories you'll burn? That's one rule of calorie burn estimation that you can take to the bank: The more intense the workout (or in this case the faster you jog), the more calories you burn.
Going faster isn't the only way to up your calorie burn, though. You can burn more calories, but still maintain a relatively easy jogging pace, if you add in incline training — which can mean increasing the incline on a treadmill or elliptical trainer, or jogging up hills outside.
Perhaps you also noticed the mention of body weight. That's not gratuitous — there are many factors that affect your calorie burn, and your body weight is one of them. If you're jogging to lose weight, you could even look at this as a sort of bonus, because when you weigh more, you burn more calories.
A look at the Harvard figures for a 185-pound exerciser jogging at the same pace makes this clear:
- General walk/jog intervals: 266 calories
- 5 mph: 355 calories
- 5.2 mph: 400 calories
Another Set of Calorie Estimates
There's a reason the word estimate keeps cropping up: Unless you're hooked up to sophisticated lab equipment, any figure for calories burned will be just that — an estimate. If your body weight or workout time don't fit in exactly with the figures from Harvard Health Publishing, it can be helpful to use a more flexible calorie calculator, like the physical activity calorie counter from the American Council on Exercise.
Calorie estimates from one organization to another won't always match exactly — they're just estimates, after all — but you can use them to get a good idea of how your pace will affect your calorie burn. For example, if you weight 165 pounds (which means you fall somewhere in the middle of the Harvard weight/calorie estimates), you could use the ACE calorie counter to get the following estimates for your 30 minutes of jogging:
- General jogging: 261 calories
- 5 mph: 299 calories
- 6 mph: 374 calories
Of course, for some people, a 6 mph pace will be a flat-out run; for others, it's still a jog.
Jogging for Health
If you've taken up jogging for the sake of your health, then you don't have to worry too much about your jogging speed or calories burned at all. Instead, get out your favorite timer app or wristwatch, because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes its recommendations for healthy physical activity based on time spent and general workout intensity.
They say that to get and stay healthy, you should do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. If you're jogging at an easy pace — whatever speed that means for you — then you're likely to fall into the moderate intensity category. The talk test is an easy way of double-checking: As a general rule, if you can manage a two-sided conversation but can't sing or do a monologue, you're working out at a moderate intensity.
That means that if you spend 30 minutes jogging every day during the week (Monday through Friday), you'll have met the HHS recommendations for aerobic physical activity and still have your weekends free.
Of course, the recommendations also say you'll get even more health benefits if you double the time to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, and they recommend strength-training your major muscle groups twice a week — so there's always a good reason to keep jogging or hit the gym.
Tips for Beginning Joggers
Turning those easy jogs into a lifelong habit doesn't have to be painful — it can even be fun. Tips that can help you ease into the habit include:
- Always warm up before your jog, and cool down afterward — it'll make the rest of your workout easier.
- Try listening to music that motivates and energizes you.
- Don't starve yourself, but do focus on eating nutrient-rich foods that give you the fuel to keep jogging.
- Consider recruiting a friend or two to join you; not only does having a workout buddy make exercise more fun, it also helps keep you accountable.
- See if your local animal shelter has a program for volunteers to take dogs out walking or jogging. It's great for you and the dogs.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights"
- American Council on Exercise: "Physical Activity Calorie Calculator"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 1. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans"
- University of New Mexico: "The 'Talk Test'"